This morning I resumed a summer ritual of mine. This ritual always seems like a good idea at 8:15 in the morning but somehow by 11:15 AM I am wondering, I did this why?
I am talking about cycling and specifically cycling with one of the local cycling clubs. I like the idea of doing group rides, the camaraderie, the conversation and the safety in numbers. Somehow all that good will and happy thoughts gets a little lost along the way.
Part of the problem is that the groups I ride with are mostly “A” riders, very fast and very good climbers. That is significant because the Finger Lakes area where I live has no lack of hills some of which are very long and very steep.
Today’s ride of over 1800 feet of climbing (550 meters for my metric friends) started out with eleven riders, a couple of small gradual climbs, and couple of short steep climbs and some high speed downhill action. And that was the warm up.
Soon we were headed up Riley Road which should be called Riley Hill Road. This was a long and steep climb, me in my 28 tooth lowest gear going 3MPH at times (5KPH). There were only two of us at that time as all the others had zoomed ahead and were out of sight. At the start of the climb the guy I was riding with had stopped and was not able to clip into the bike because the hill was so steep. He walked up that steep part at the same speed I was riding!
The group did wait for us at the top, only to zoom off again on the next long steep climb and once again was out of sight. Do you see a recurring theme here? I was once again asking myself, I did this why?
By then I decided to head for home the shortest possible route since I was pretty much riding along anyway. Of course the ride home included riding up three more short but steep climbs.
I arrived safely home, 41 miles and three hours later. There was a certain sense of gratification which was somewhat overshadowed by how tired I was and wondering if it was as much fun as it used to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like the idea of group rides. I like it even better when we really ride as a group. For now I have to resign myself to the fact that I am just too heavy, too slow and have no desire to chase people that weigh a lot less then me up and down hills.
I think if I am looking for a group riding experience I will stick to the Herd and Zwift. If I’m riding outside I will ride alone, take my time and enjoy the fantastic scenery that is everywhere in the Finger Lakes.
For now I am going to eat, drink a lot of water and take a well deserved nap. Three hours on a bike will sap your energy like nothing else can. And it can leave you wondering, I did this why?